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Whey Protein Isolate vs Concentrate: Differences & Which Is Best?

By Ryan Smith / May 5, 2020
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases by providing links to Amazon for recommended products.

whey proteinWe all know that our body needs protein when we are training with heavy weights and doing long energy-zapping exercises. Protein is necessary for muscle growth and muscle recovery. Of course, there are various options for increasing protein intake, but many choose whey protein isolate or concentrate.

Using whey protein isolate or concentrate is the fastest way for your body to absorb much-needed protein into the body, Your muscles are damaged during weight training and heavy-duty exercise, and protein powder is the fuel required for repair and recovery.

But which should you be taking? If we look at whey protein isolate vs concentrate, how do we know which is best? Lets try and help solve that question and try and outline the major differences to help you choose.

What is Whey Protein Isolate?

Whey protein isolate is a dietary supplement and food ingredient made by extracting components from whey.

Whey is the remainder left over after the cheese-making process is complete. This whey can be further processed in 3 different formats to produce whey isolate, whey concentrate and hydrolysate.

The main differences in these three forms of protein extract is the composition – the actual protein amount in each.

Whey protein isolate contains the highest amount of protein available to you (approximately 90-94%). It contains little to no lactose and may be suitable for consumption by those who are lactose intolerant. It can also be pure enough to be fat-free, cholesterol-free and carbohydrate-free.

What Is Whey Protein Concentrate?

As mentioned earlier whey protein concentrate comes from the same source as whey protein isolate, its the remaining food component extracted from milk in the form of casein and whey (after production of cheese or yogurt). It is cheaper than the isolate version.

Whey protein has a low level of carbohydrate, fat, and cholesterol.

Whey Protein Isolate vs Concentrate – The Differences

The differences are nutritional between isolate vs concentrate. It mainly comes down to the way each whey composition is produced and digested.

When the liquid form is collected after dairy production, this remaining liquid goes through quite a few processes and steps to increase the protein content.

Once this its all been completed the liquid is dried to form a whey concentrate protein powder. The calculations are that this powder will contain 80% protein and 20% carbohydrate and fats.

Here is where further processing and different techniques used can reduce the carbohydrate and fat contain to just 10% and increase protein content to 90%. This is then known as whey protein isolate. It is more pure than concentrate and has less fat and carbs.

Both protein powders have the same amount of amino acids (9 essential amino acids for helping build lean muscle).

Let’s focus on a serving of 100 grams of whey protein isolate vs concentrate (the key differences):

Isolate

  • More processing methods applied
  • 23 grams of protein
  • Only one gram of carbs
  • Zero fat
  • Barely one gram of lactose
  • More expensive

Concentrate

  • Not as much processing
  • 18 grams of protein
  • 3.5 grams of carbs
  • 1.5 grams of fat
  • Nearly 3.5 grams of lactose
  • Costs less than isolate

Health Benefits Of Whey Protein

There are multiple health benefits of whey protein. Its one of the best instant protein hits currently on the market so as a health supplement it carries a lot of value. Here is a quick list of health benefits you can expect.

Whey protein promotes muscle growth – as we age we lose muscle density. So once muscle automatically starts declining we develop more body fat increasing risks of chronic diseases.

We can stem this decline by doing weight training and strength training while watching our diet (healthy eating). When doing strength training or weights extra protein is required and that”s where whey protein  as a supplement is most effective. You still need to eat foods which carry high content of protein.

Whey Protein May Be Helpful Toward Lower Blood Pressure – We all know hypertension (high blood pressure) is a major factor in heart disease.

Medically is been proven that so called “angiotensin- converting-enzyme inhibitors (ACE – inhibitors) which are known as lactokinins in whey protein can help reduce hypertension.

Please note this is not medicine to cure blood pressure, but taken along with a high protein diet can assist the slight signs of high blood pressure.

Whey Protein An Excellent Source Of High-Quality Protein – A complete high-quality source of protein which contains the 9 essential amino acids to help muscle growth, development and repair.

It has a very high absorption rate (almost instant hit) reason why top weight training professionals take it immediately after exercising.

Whey Protein Helps Stem Affects of Type 2 Diabetes – Type 2 diabetes is attributed to high blood sugar and function of insulin.

Insulin is a hormone that supposedly stimulates the uptake of blood sugar into cells, keeping it within healthy limits. Whey protein is proven to helping to  moderate blood sugar, increasing levels of insulin and the effects it has on the blood cells.

In a disability of this nature, things can be controlled by taking protein supplements along with healthy meals. It is not a cure rather a containing measure.

Whey Protein Helps Body Inflammation – When you damage your body through exercise, the body may be prone to inflammation. Short time inflammation not an issue, but long term can be.

Long lasting or chronic inflammation can damage health, particularly if you already suffer from other under lying health issues.

A study and review has found that medium to large doses of whey can help to reduce body inflammation. It reduces the C-reactive protein (CRP), a key contributor to body inflammation.

The Final Verdict – Which Should You Be Taking?

Whey protein consists of many fast-absorbing and digesting proteins and is extensively used as a food supplement to build, grow and maintain muscle mass.

The further filtering and processing of the liquid milk left after dairy production, produces whey protein isolate, a purer form of protein powder. It contains slightly less carbs, less lactose and less fat than concentrate (better if you’re on a diet), which undergoes less processing. Whey protein isolate is also more easily absorbed, and may be suitable for people who are sensitive to dairy products.

Although isolate is purer, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use whey protein concentrate though. Both are fantastic protein sources that will give you mostly the same benefits. Concentrate has it’s pluses as well – it’s usually slightly cheaper and because of the added carbohydrates and fat, some people think it tastes better (has a more creamy, milky flavor).

 

About the author

Ryan Smith

Ryan Smith is a husband, dad, fitness enthusiast and personal trainer who has been working out since he was 18 years old. He enjoys the gym as well as exercising at home, and loves testing new fitness equipment and gadgets that aid in fitness and recovery.